Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

'I Am a Woman Who Has Found the Strength to Survive and Move Forward'

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

'I Am a Woman Who Has Found the Strength to Survive and Move Forward'

Article excerpt

JULIET says she was just an average woman leading a regular life - until it was changed forever when she was raped.

But refusing to live her life as a victim, she has bravely waived her anonymity to speak out and encourage others to seek help.

A teaching assistant and swimming instructor, Juliet, now 41, was living in Didsbury when she was attacked on New Year's Eve 2011.

When a friend cancelled their night out, she went on her own to a bar in the city centre. It was there she believes her drink was spiked in a phenomenon called 'sharking', where predators drug vulnerable victims and wait for the effects.

CCTV viewed in court showed Juliet slumped against a wall for 40 minutes, and a lamppost for 20, before she was led round a corner where the attack took place.

After help from the St Mary's Sexual Assault Referral Centre and support from police, Juliet testified against her rapist and he was convicted.

She says she would not have had the strength to testify without the support of staff at the centre, counsellors and the police. But it has been a long and emotional journey for Juliet, who woke up the morning after her attack and knew instantly something was wrong.

She said: "I had come back having been robbed of my bag and had to be let in by my neighbour.

"The next morning I woke up and it was like a bang, I was awake. I didn't want to move, I knew something was very wrong. Hours of my life had gone, a complete black-out."

Juliet went into town to try to find her bag.

She said: "I wasn't thinking straight, I didn't want to register it. And then I saw the alleyway and I had this flashback, it was like I was watching myself in black and white. It was a shockwave. And I knew then.

"I can still see that alleyway where it happened. Bam, reality smacks you in the face."

She returned home, picked up the phone and told police she'd been robbed and sexually assaulted.

She said: "They believed me without question and from that moment my body became a crime scene. …

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